Washington Apple Country Tours

in the Heart of the Apple Capital of the World
Tour Pricing
Apple Country Gifts
Apple Country History
Special Events
The Fruit
About Us
Contact Us

Washington Apple Country History

 Great Northern Railroad

The Great Northern Railroad

see also-
Great Northern Dining Car Recipes
The Empire Builder

One of two principal railroads which initially traversed this country from east to west was James J Hill's Great Northern. Formerly known as the Minnesota & Pacific Railroad, the company had been in receivership to territory of Minnesota for a number of years. Unable to meet the fiduciary obligations under its founding charter (c. 1857), the rail line was in chronic need of investors and operating capital.

In 1878 its holdings were reorganized as the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway Company, and James Hill assumed the reigns as general manager. Despite decades-long financial hardship, the railroad had been completed across the state of Minnesota and up to the Canadian border. It ran from St. Paul, in the east, to an area near Big Stone Lake, located on the boundary with Dakota's territory.

The language in the original charter, granted by the Minnesota legislature more than twenty years before, had set forth an explicit proposal to "construct a railroad in the direction of the Pacific." Hill was determined to turn that contract into reality. With funds from his partnership in a steamboat line, coupled with money from Donald Smith (at the time, commissioner of the Hudson's Bay Company), and Smith's cousin, George Stephen, then president of the Bank of Montreal, Hill undertook expansion of the railroad into Dakota Territory. Within a mere six years, by the winter of 1885, the system of main and branch lines had grown to almost fifteen hundred miles.

What factors ensured this nearly uninterrupted progress on the Great Northern (c.1878-1893) during the same period in which construction on the other transcontinental railroad, the Northern Pacific (c. 1864-1883), often languished, its production grinding to a complete halt for years at a time? The reasons may be directly attributed to the man in charge, James Jerome Hill.

This transportation pioneer of the American northwest was not only an astute businessman: he was a true visionary. Dedicated to the expansion of trade, industry and farming from Minnesota to the Rocky Mountains and beyond, Hill understood that the success of his plans would depend upon concomitant westward colonization.

 Refrigerator Cars Icing Station on the Great Northern

Before the widespread use of mechanical refrigeration, produce was kept cool on trans-continental trips by a system of fans inside the railroad car that circulated air through bunkers containing ice. This ice was harvested from lakes along the right-of-way during the winter, and stored in huge warehouses year 'round. Icing stations were located along the rail line, and crews working on elevated catwalks iced the cars by sliding blocks of ice into bunkers through access hatches in the roof.

Special thanks to Lindsay Korst, webmaster for the Great Northern Railway Historical Society and creator of the Great Northern Railway Page, an excellent resource for everything about the Great Northern.
Apple Country Tours

Enjoy the "Fruit of our Labor" with customized bus tours through the scenic Wenatchee Valley.

See and experience-
- Working Family Orchards
- Antique Packing Line Demo
- Commercial Packing Line
- Sample the fruit varieties

Education, Entertainment & Fun

Call to make reservations- Toll Free: 1-866-459-9614

Be sure to visit our online shop for great products from the family orchards of Wenatchee Valley

Washington Apple Harvest
(may take 60 seconds or so to load)

Washington Apple Country PO BOX 301 Cashmere, WA 98815
Toll Free: 1-866-459-9614